Illuminated Hebrew Letter Series - Tzadhe
Illuminated Tzadhe - by Adam Rhine
Watercolor on Paper

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“Righteous are You in all Your ways, and magnanimous in all Your deeds.” Tehillim/Psalm 145:17

Tzadhe is the first letter of the word tzaddik in this verse, meaning “righteous”. Hashem is just and merciful in His judgment of us. This attribute is reflected in the spiritual “pillars” of each generation - the tzadikim or “righteous ones”, whose saintly behavior elevates them, inspiring people to loving devotion to the Torah and its commandments. The righteous know Hashem in all His ways, in all the seemingly mundane activities and details of this world. Through their devout study and immersion in the spiritual precepts of the oral and written Torah, they raise the consciousness of the collective soul to higher levels of Divine perception.

The bent shape of the letter tzadhe symbolizes how the righteous humble themselves before the Lord, knowing from Whom their abilities and spirituality derive.

Tzadakah, the Hebrew word for “charity,” begins with a tzadhe. It is often used synonymously with justice, truth and kindness. Giving generously to those in need: family, neighbors, and the greater community, is considered righteous behavior, and in Jewish thinking, an act of justice. We follow the example of our righteous father, Abraham, who ran to do acts of charity. We are not the owners of what we have been given, but the custodians. If we have been blessed with greater means than another it is a sacred trust to be used wisely and in the service of those less fortunate. Through acts of benevolence that open our hearts to love, we grow closer to the Source and Bestower of all life.

90 is the age at which Sarah gave birth to Isaac; it is the number of total consciousness; 90,000 elders danced before the holy ark when King David brought it to Jerusalem.

The symbol of tzadhe with its outstretched arms reminds us that giving and receiving are one, and that each us has the potential to act from that place of the hidden tzadik within.

Text by Louise Temple from the book "Hebrew Illuminations"